Close the Door, Throw the Key {n.h.}

“What are you trying to say?” I ask, sitting up. “Niall, I’m trying to say,” Zayn says with a sigh. “That there’s no way to know how much longer she’s going to last. One of these times, I guarantee that she’s going to need serious medical care. And hearing what you said about her father - Niall, he’s not going to be the one to take her to a hospital. And what if you’re not there either?”

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31. THIRTY–ONE.

~*Niall’s P.O.V.*~

 

 

*Week two without the girl I love*

 

 

I’m sleeping again, but I hate every second of it.  I feel selfish.  How can I just sit here, living a great life while my girlfriend - actually, I don’t even know what we are anymore - is back in the US, probably depriving herself of sleep and beating herself up over something that’s not her fault?

 

I love her with all of my heart.  But she left me.  We’ve only been together - well, were together - for a month and a little while, but it just feels - felt - so right with her.  I honestly think that I want to spend the rest of my life with her.  But now that she’s gone…  I can’t.  I don’t even know if I’ll ever see Maci again, but I’m doing everything in my power to figure out where she is.

 

The fans have started to ask where she is, but I don’t have an answer.  Twitter is blowing up with rumors, pictures of girls that look just like Maci - but I know they’re not her.  No one is like Maci, not even close.

 

I fumble with the [promise ring] I’d gotten about three weeks back.  Maci thought I’d just gotten her the guitar when we stopped before the park, but coincidentally there had been a jeweler a couple shops down from music store.  It’d been an impulse purchase, but I’d been saving it for after the rest of our Europe tour.  The rest of my life with Maci had sounded amazing, but now that she’s gone…  We can’t share something like that.

 

“Come on, Nialler,” Liam says, nudging my arm.  “We’ve got to get out there.”

 

My senses tune back in to reality.  The crowd just behind this wall screams in anticipation.  I wince, letting the ring drop into my pocket - reminding me again of Maci’s absence.  There’s a hole in my heart that only threatens to grow.  Even the well-rested part of me tires with the effort my mind is making in trying to get over her.  But I know my heart will never let that happen.

 

I take a deep breath before jogging out on stage.

 

 

 

~*Maci’s P.O.V.*~

 

 

*Week three without the boy I love*

 

 

I’m starting to notice all the small things that are different without him.  I miss being in his arms, I miss his small compliments, I miss the way the light reflects off of his blue eyes, I miss his laugh, his smile, even the way he talks in his sleep.  I miss talking to him, but I can’t bring myself to answer the messages he’s sent me every day since I left.  Everything reminds me of him.

 

“Hey girl!” Ryanne chirps, sitting down in the seat across from me.

 

“Hey, Ryanne,” I mumble, giving her a half smile.  She slides a cup of coffee across the table and I give her a small ‘thanks’ before taking a sip.

 

“What’s up with you?” she asks, resting her chin on her hand.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Well you just seem down,” she states, taking a sip of her drink.

 

“I’m fine,” I reply, tapping my fingers on the table.

 

“No you’re not,” She says, rolling her eyes.  “I’ve known you how long?  I can tell that there’s something up.”

 

“You’ve known me two weeks,” I say.  It’s my turn to roll my eyes.

 

“Psh!  So?” she crosses her arms.  “You’re avoiding the question, anywho.”

 

“I said I’m fine,” I sigh heavily.  I haven’t told Ryanne about who I am, or Niall, or my father - any of it.  She only knows my first name.  It’s a good thing, too, because she’s a big One Direction fan.  Talks with her always coast to them, and they get harder and harder every time.

 

“You’re not telling me something,” she sing-songs, shaking her head.

 

I shrug, taking a sip of my coffee.  My phone suddenly vibrates on the table, making me jump a bit.  I reach for it, but I’m too slow.  Ryanne snatches it away with a giggle and unlocks my phone.

 

“Ryanne, stop!” I shout in a panic, standing up.  But I’m too late - she’s seen the message.

 

Her eyes go wide and she looks up at me, her mouth hanging open.  I try to take my phone back but she holds it out of my reach, reading it another time.  I wince as she turns her head back to me again.

 

“Maci?” Ryanne squeaks.  She holds the phone just out of reach, but turns the screen so I can see the message.

 

From Nialler;) :  Please let me know where you are.  I love you, Maci.  So much.

 

“Is this what you’re not telling me?”

 

 

 

~*Niall’s P.O.V.*~

 

 

*Week four without her*

 

 

There’s honestly not much to say about me right now.  Without Maci I feel like nothing.  The promise ring weighs me down, a constant reminder of the month without her.  It’s been a month.  A month, and I’m already so down I feel like any lower would be burying myself.

 

She won’t answer me.  Not once has she answered, not even to tell me if she’s okay.  Caroline insists that she’s checking in on her, but I won’t believe Maci’s okay until she says so herself.

 

But that’s the thing, too.  Caroline says she’s talking to Maci.  Caroline is talking to Maci, but she won’t tell me where she is.  Why would Caroline do that to me?  Caroline’s also made darn sure that I can’t get anywhere near her phone.  Why can’t she understand that I need Maci?  I need Maci more than I can even comprehend, and it’s killing me to know that she’s probably still not sleeping, and blaming herself.

 

I am so tempted every day to just take a plane back to the US and find her myself.  But then I run into the problem of not knowing even remotely where she could be.  I sure hope to God that it’s not back in Florida with her father.  Then I definitely wouldn’t be able to live with myself.

 

I haven’t stopped sending her messages, in hopes that she’ll reply eventually.  I don’t even care if it’s in ten years - I’ll never love anyone like I love her.  Did you hear that?

 

Never.

 

 

 

~*Maci’s P.O.V.*~

 

 

*Five weeks without him*

 

 

“I can’t believe you still won’t tell me,” Ryanne grumbles, shoving another handful of popcorn into her mouth.

 

“And I can’t believe you won’t leave me alone,” I shoot back, changing the channel on her TV.

 

“Yikes,” she says, holding up her hands.  “Sorry.”

 

I sigh heavily.  “I wouldn’t even get one sentence out without breaking down.”

 

“I don’t care,” she says, setting the bowl of popcorn down on the coffee table.  “I’m here for you.  I already know some of it, anyway.”

 

She’s referring to the story she told herself after seeing the message from Niall.  Granted, she has most of it right, but I still don’t want to talk to her about it.  No matter how much I trust Ryanne to be there for me, I don’t think she’d be able to pull me out of the hole I’d be digging myself by talking about how much I’m still in love with Niall.

 

“Please, Maci,” she begs, tugging a blanket around her shoulders.  “I’m here for you.  Just tell me.”

 

It’s tempting.  I want so much to just dump out what I’ve been holding in for the past five weeks.  Ryanne still doesn’t know what happened before Niall and I got together.  She doesn’t know how much I’ve been through - why I left.  She honestly doesn’t even know that I did leave.  For all she knows, I’m just some girl Niall loves that happens to have the same name as Niall’s ex-girlfriend.  Quite honestly, that’s what she thinks, and that’s what I’ve let her believe.  I hate being dishonest with her.  I hate it so much.

 

“Maci?” she says, putting a hand on my shoulder.  “You okay?  You’re zoning out on me.  Just get it off your chest.”

 

My chest tightens, thinking of all the feelings that I’m holding inside.  They fight to get out, just to let someone else share the load.  I’m a burden and I know it, but I don’t think my heart - or my mind - care at this point.  The emotional dam in my mind is breaking, and I can’t stop it.

 

“You have to promise me something,” I say, staring blankly at the wall.  Ryanne nods eagerly, and I continue.  “You have to promise that no matter what, you can’t flip out on me, and you can’t tell anyone.”

 

“My tits are calmed, and my lips are sealed,” she replies cheerfully with a smile.

 

I can’t help but chuckle a bit.  It only lasts for a second, though.  The reminder of how emotionally painful this is comes rushing back, pushing and pushing against the dam in my head and in my heart.

 

“Okay,” I say, pushing a lock of my black hair - now grown to below my shoulder - behind my ear.  Then the dam breaks, and it all just pours out of me.

 

 

---

 

 

My eyes sting and my shoulders shake violently with my own sobs.  Ryanne holds my whimpering form in her arms, telling me everything will be okay.  I told her about my father, how Niall and I met, how I left to go on tour with him, the nightmares, the sleepless nights, the flubbed concerts, the airport, even why I dyed my hair, that I miss him with all of my heart - everything.  I know most of it is my fault.  But somehow, I feel better.

 

I hadn’t told anyone just exactly what my nightmares are like.  But now that I have, a huge weight I didn’t even know was there has been lifted off of me.  And just like that, I’m free.  Free from my father and free from the nightmares that have bound me for the past three months.  Free from the nightmares that tore me from Niall.

 

This realization has me reeling, pushing back from Ryanne.  She looks at me with a confused expression, obviously surprised by my reactions.  My eyes go wide as my sobs subside and I throw myself into her arms again, squealing with joy.

 

“I’m free, Ryanne,” I whisper into her shoulder.  “I’m free of him.”

 

“Of Niall!?” she asks, sounding almost horrified.

 

“No!” I laugh, pulling back again.  “I’m free of the nightmares.  I’m free of him.  I’m free!”

 

“Are you sure?” she asks, raising an eyebrow.  “You were just telling me about how horrible they are, and you’re only sleeping for twenty minutes every night because of them.”

 

My heart sinks a bit.  “Oh,” I say, looking down.  “I guess I don’t really know for sure.”

 

Ryanne shakes her head.  “Don’t get down on me, you were just so happy.  Maybe you could try it out?  Do you want to spend the night here?  I’ll be right here with you, just in case you wake up.”

 

My eyes widen.  “That would be amazing.  Oh God, Ryanne, thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me!”

 

She smiles widely.  “But first - if you don’t mind, of course - I’d love to see some pictures.”

 

I smile back at her.  Having told her the whole story, I feel like sharing the load has made the subject easier to talk about.  I pull out my phone and unlock it, scrolling to the pictures app.  I haven’t deleted a single one that Niall and I took together.

 

“Of course,” I say.

 

 

 

~*Ryanne’s P.O.V.*~

 

 

Maci shows me picture after adorable picture of her and Niall together.  She looks so much different now because of her hair and makeup, but you can still sort of tell that it’s her under there.  She and Niall look as cute as ever in every picture, and I can’t believe these two can even stay apart from each other.  Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Niall had this Maci ‘homing beacon’ inside of his head that he would use to find her.  With the sources he has, I’m surprised that he hasn’t found her.

 

But then there’s that small issue of Maci not wanting to be found.  She blames herself, and that’s pretty much the only thing still keeping these two apart.  Maci’s afraid that if he comes back it’ll end up the same.  Plus, even though she says she’s free of the nightmares, I know that she feels guilty about leaving him.  That might also be a factor in why she doesn’t want to see him again.  She doesn’t want to face the person that she left.

 

“Maci,” I say, setting my hand on her shoulder.  “You’ve got to call him.”

 

Her eyes go wide and she shakes her head vigorously.  “I can’t, Ryanne.”

 

“And why is that?” I question, putting a hand on my hip.

 

She lets out a shaky breath.  “What if he’s angry with me?”

 

“Maci, you know that’s not true,” I tell her, crossing my arms.  “All he wants to do is be with you.  Have you even paid any attention to the messages he’s been sending you?  Niall has no idea where you are, and he’s loving you with all of his heart while you sit here feeling sorry for yourself.”

 

Maci’s face drops noticeably and I immediately feel bad.  “I didn’t mean it like that,” I say quickly.  “I just mean to say that while you’re here thinking that it’s all your fault and he’ll never forgive you, he already has.”

 

Her eyes well with tears.  “How are you for sure?” she asks shakily, playing with the ends of her fingers.

 

I shrug.  “If he hadn’t forgiven you, he wouldn’t be sending you ‘I love you’ messages every day.  Every day he sends you messages asking where you are and if you’ll just come back to him.  I know he’s forgiven you because you never did anything to forgive.  Plus, I’ve seen all the movies - this is a pretty movie-ish situation.”

 

I get a small grin out of her and she wipes at her eyes.  “Thank you for that.  But I’m still not calling him.  I don’t want anything to happen where I have to leave again.”

 

I roll my eyes.  “You said yourself, you’re free of your nightmares.  What else could get in the way?”

 

He expression darkens a bit.  “I don’t know for sure about the nightmares.  And honestly?  Anything could get in the way.”

 

“Rubbish!” I shout in a posh accent.  “You’ve got to call him sooner or later.”

 

“I choose later, then,” she replies, shifting so she’s laying down on the couch.  “Much, much later.  Now help me find out if my nightmares are really gone.”

 

“How do I do that?” I ask, furrowing my eyebrows.

 

Maci giggles a bit.  “Watch me sleep.”

 

 

---

 

 

Oh my God this is boring.

 

I’ve been sitting up for the past three freaking hours, just watching her sleep.  I feel like a total creep!  If she hasn’t woken up by now, I don’t think she’s going to have the nightmares anymore.

 

I can’t help but think of how much she needs to call Niall.  But I also can’t help thinking of who it is we’re actually talking about!  Niall Horan from One Direction - my favorite band.  My best friend is in love with Niall Horan - and he loves her back!  I have to walk into the kitchen to have a total fan-girl moment so I don’t wake Maci.

 

But because Maci loves Niall, she needs to grow a pair and swallow her fears.  I walk back into the living room and sit on the floor, leaning against the coffee table as I stare at Maci’s phone.  How easy would it be just to open her phone and call him?  I could even do it now, while she’s asleep.  I could tell him where she is and he would come over and show her how happy she can be now that her nightmares are gone.

 

But on the flip side, Maci could hate me for it.  She refuses to see how good Niall would be for her right now.  Niall needs Maci, and vice versa.  That’s a fact.  Whether she chooses to believe it or not, calling him is what she needs most right now.  She’ll love me for it later.

 

I pick up her phone and unlock it, scrolling through her contacts until I reach Niall’s number.  Niall Horan’s number.  I quickly pull out my phone and enter him into my contacts, oh and Harry’s, too - just in case, you know?  I look over at the clock on the wall.  It’s midnight here, making it four o’clock in the morning over there.  I send up a silent prayer that his phone isn’t on silent and that he’ll wake up to the call.  Getting up quietly, I quickly hurry into my bedroom and shut the door so I don’t wake Maci up.

 

Then I hit send.

 

 

 

~*Niall’s P.O.V.*~

 

 

I nearly wet myself when my phone goes off full blast right in my ear.  My eyes fly wide open and I sit straight up, hitting my head on the roof of the bunk.  I grunt as my head starts to throb and turn angrily to the upturned device that woke me from my dream about Maci.

 

Yes, I dream about Maci.  Yes, it’s creepy.  And yes, I love it.

 

I snatch my phone up and rub my eyes before turning it over to look at the screen.  My eyes take a moment to adjust to the bright display and I huff impatiently as my eyes sting a bit.  I swear, this better not be some idiot thinking he’s fun-

 

I nearly drop the phone as I see the name displayed on the front.  My mouth falls open and I rub my eyes again, looking more closely at the name on the screen.  Maci W.  Oh my God.  It’s Maci.

 

Someone pinch me, I’m still dreaming.

 

My heart flies into my throat as I hit the ‘answer’ button and put the phone up to my ear.  Please don’t let me wake up just yet.  I’m frozen for a bit, not knowing how to answer.  Should I say a simple ‘hello’, should I say ‘I love you’, should I not say anything?

 

“Maci?” I croak instead.

 

“Niall?” a quiet voice comes on the other line - but it’s not Maci’s.

 

“Who is this?” I question, annoyed.

 

“It’s a friend of Maci’s.  My name is Ryanne.”

 

I furrow my eyebrows.  “Where is Maci?”

 

The girl on the other line lets out a long breath.  “She’s sleeping right now.”

 

“Sleeping?” I ask, bewildered.  Sleeping?

 

“Yeah,” Ryanne replies.  “Her nightmares are gone now.”

 

My chest heaves.  I don’t know what emotion I’m feeling.  I’m kind of just a jumbled mess.  “Why are you calling?”

 

“Because it’s the right thing to do,” Ryanne says, and I hear the squeak of a chair in the background.  “Maci loves you with all of her heart, and she needs you even more.”

 

Tears prick at my eyes.  “It’s the same for me.”

 

“I know,” she sighs.  “It’s just that Maci feels too guilty about leaving.  She still thinks that all of this crap is her fault and that she doesn’t deserve to have you back.”

 

“That is far from the truth,” I say urgently, wanting to make a point.  “First of all, this is absolutely not her fault.  It’s her father’s.  Second, there is only one thing in this world that she doesn’t deserve, and that’s punishment.  Maci doesn’t deserve the punishment that she’s pushing onto herself.”

 

“You don’t have to tell me twice,” she says.  “I figured that one out halfway through her story.”

 

I close my eyes tightly, pushing back the urge to break down.  Whether it’s from sadness, guilt, happiness, or just plain relief - I don’t know.  “Please,” I beg, trying to keep my voice level.  “Just tell me where she is.”

 

“I’ll not only tell you where she is,” Ryanne replies.  “I’ll set something up for you two.  She’s not getting away this time.”

 

A bit of pain stabs at my heart, remembering how I found out that Maci left.  “Okay,” I breathe.  “Where is she?”

 

“First off; how soon can you get in the US?”

 

I think about this for a minute.  We’ll be in Munich by  seven this morning.  If I can slip away, I can catch a flight at 8:30, and be in the US by seven o’clock at night, their time.  Plus, if I don’t let the lads know, the paps likely wouldn’t know at all until they do.

 

“By tonight,” I reply.

 

“Great,” she says.

 

“So what am I supposed to do?” I ask impatiently.  “Where is she?”

 

There’s a chuckle on the other line.  “Don’t worry, Nialler,” Ryanne says.  “I’ve got a plan.”
 

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